After his epic 7/6 6/3 6/7 5/7 4/6 quarterfinal loss to Daniil Medvedev at the Australian Open, Félix Auger-Aliassime is returning to the circuit this week in Rotterdam. And he is more convinced than ever of his ability to rival with the world’s best.

In other news in Rotterdam, Jeff Bezos has requested that the city’s De Hef bridge be temporarily dismantled. The bridge measures a full 46 metres high but sits extremely low on the water. So low that the Amazon founder’s gigantic three-mast 127-metre yacht is unable to sail under the monument on its journey from the nearby naval yard in Alblasserdam to the North Sea. For his part, Félix Auger-Aliassime is arriving in the Dutch city with fresh wind in his sails, his aim being to raise even further a career built on increasingly robust foundations. The Quebecois followed up his ATP Cup win with Canada in early January with a quarterfinal finish at the Australian Open.

 

At 21 years and 5 months of age, the US Open semi-finalist and Wimbledon quarter-finalist in 2021 became the youngest player to reach the quarterfinals of a major three consecutive times since Juan Martín del Potro in 2009. Above all, though he lost to Medvedev after leading two sets to love and holding a match point in the fourth set (saved by the Russian with a service winner), the Canadian put on a top-quality aggressive display of tennis. “I had absolutely no confidence after the first two sets,” said Medvedev after the 4 hour and 42 minute marathon. “He was playing at a crazy level! I’d never seen him play so well, though obviously I haven’t seen all his matches. It was unreal.”

 

“Félix was playing at a crazy level! It was unreal.” - Daniil Medvedev

 

Camped out on top of his baseline, taking the ball early, hitting precisely and making all the right choices, “F2A” regularly ran around his backhand to dictate the rallies and eagerly rushed forward to close out points at the net, dominating the world number two for much of the match. He could perhaps harbour some regrets about the errors he made at 7/6 6/3 4/4 with his opponent serving down 0-30. Fully aware that he had just missed an opportunity to KO his opponent, he let out a few signs of frustration. “I can go back and think I wish I’d made different choices, or wish Daniil didn’t play as well in certain moments, but I like to look at it in a positive way,” he said after the match. “I think he was just a little bit more clutch than me. It sucks to lose, but I just need to accept it.” And all in all, Félix is proud of his performance.

 

 

“I always believed I could produce what I did tonight,” he said. “It's the difference between knowing that you have this inside of you and actually showing up and doing it. It’s a world of competition, so at the end of the day I think it's a good message that I send to my fellow players. I’m ready to test myself with the best. It's unfortunate I couldn't win, but I showed good things. I'm going to leave Australia with my head held high, and I'm going to go into the rest of the season knowing that I can play well.” In parallel, the young Canadian notched up stacks of extra points for the #FAAPointsForChange project. With each rally won, he donated an extra $5, matched by $15 from BNP Paribas, to the EduChange programme implemented by the NGO CARE to educate and protect children in Kara, the native region of Auger-Aliassime’s father in Togo.

 

“I always believed I could produce what I did tonight” - Félix Auger-Aliassime

 

In Rotterdam, in his first tournament since Australia, the Montréal native is seeded third behind Stéfanos Tsitsipás and titleholder Andrey Rublev. The objective in part of his mind always being to claim his first trophy on the main circuit. “Even if he won the decisive match in the ATP Cup, a title that counts (smiles), winning his first individual tournament is one of the goals this season,” Felix’s coach Frédéric Fontang told Tennis Actu. “And now, with his ranking, when Félix enters a tournament, he is there to win.”

 

Ranked ninth in the world, Félix Auger-Aliassime kicks off his Rotterdam adventure against Belarusian Egor Gerasimov, world number 126, on Wednesday. Félix lost in the first round of the Netherlands ATP 500 event last year to Kei Nishikori, following an injury at the end of the first set, but he reached the final in 2020, losing to Gaël Monfils 2/6 4/6. “I have a few regrets,” he said of that match, the day after at a press conference in Marseille. “Especially about hesitating over my game plan after making a good start to the match. I'm learning about these things. I need to continue improving a lot of things, like my backhand and moving forward to the net.” Much water has flowed under the bridge since, and F2A has built one of the most solid games in the world, capable of toppling today’s top players.